Picture the scene. You’re lounging in the garden, enjoying the warmth of the sun on your face, while holding a fresh glass of lemonade, when suddenly you hear a buzz. You open your eyes just in time to spot a bee buzzing in and out of your colourful summer flowers.
What is your first reaction? For a lot of people, there cannot be anything worse than the threat of an invasion of bees. For others, bees are an essential part of the ecosystem deserving of our respect. Admittedly, if you have pets or young children, you’ll be probably tempted to go back indoors and shut the windows. Bees are far too dangerous to stay outside, you think!
Well, it’s time to stop panicking and get to understand what bees really are and whether you should keep or destroy them in your garden.
Bees have a bad rep
If you find yourself with sweaty palms and an increased heartbeat each time you hear the buzz of a bee, you may be suffering from apiphobia, the fear of bees. As surprising as it sounds, apiphobia is incredibly common in urban areas, where most people have lost touch with nature and didn’t get to understand the purpose of bees fully.
Ultimately, the fear of bees tends to be taught from a young age by adults who might have exaggerated the dangers of bees in an attempt to keep you safe. The fear reaction can become instinctive over time. Sometimes, it could be the result of being stung as a child and attaching an upsetting memory to the event. However, more often than not, these reactions are irrational.
Bees are not aggressive unless you attack them first. However, it doesn’t mean that you should cope with a bee hive under your roof. You can contact a specialist to organise an effective bee removal where bees are not destroyed but simply captured and moved to a safer location. Additionally, if you spot a nest in the vicinity of your home, you should always contact the most relevant local authorities. Don’t try to remove the bees yourself.
It may be difficult to believe that bees are a force for good if you’re afraid of them. But they are friendly creatures that are essential for the health of your garden.
They help to pollinate
For instance, it doesn’t matter how much effort you put in the preparations for your summer garden. If there are no bee around to help to pollinate the area, your flowers will die out at the end of the season and not be able to come back. Indeed, as most plants need to make seeds to reproduce, they need to rely on the help of pollinators such as the bee, to transport the pollen from the stamen to the pistil. Ultimately, without bees, you may not be able to find more seeds to plant into your flower bed.
They support wild growth
While plants rely on insects to reproduce, they have adapted over time and designed a strategy to attract bees and other pollinators. How does a plant make itself attractive to a bee? It could be a variety of factors, but everything comes down to the openness of the flower which makes it easily accessible, the presence of nectar which is sweet and nutritious, the scent of the flower that acts as a call, and the colour of the flower which lures bees in.
The process of pollination is essential to the survival of nature, but it isn’t limited only to your garden. Indeed, bees actively support the growth of wild flowers and plants and cross-pollination across a vast radius around the beehive. In other words, if you enjoy the smell of pretty flowers when you talk a walk in the woods or along the riverbank, you need to thank bees for the pleasant experience.
They produce yummy honey
What do you spread on your slice of toast in the morning? What do you add to your porridge to give it the sweetness it needs? If the answer to these questions is honey, then you know how crucial bees are in your kitchen. In fact, the sweet golden goo has been around since before the Antiquity, and there are even texts that describe Aristotle’s beekeeping habits.
People have been making honey for over 10,000 years, so it’s fair to say that bees have always been part of our culture and our survival. Honey is an essential energy supply that helped our ancestors to go through the cold winters. Nowadays, honey might sound like a treat, but it’s been a pillar of human life through history.
They provide a home for (wild)life
Bees are the ultimate keepers of wildlife. Through their active pollination of vast areas, they can help plants and trees to grow, which in turns provide the necessary habitat for your favourite wildlife animals. Next time you spot a squirrel jumping from tree to tree in the forest, remember that without a pollinator, there wouldn’t be a tree to welcome the cute furry animal.
Wild birds too rely heavily on the pollinating activity of bees to find a secure spot for their nest. You need to picture the impact of a world without trees to understand how crucial bees are in our ecosystem, from wildlife habitat to keeping your ancestors warm in winter. Without trees, there can be no life.
You can keep them easily at bay
Finally, it’s understandable that while bees are essential, you shouldn’t feel like you’re sharing your garden with a beehive. But thankfully, you two can coexist peacefully if you know how to behave around this friendly, buzzing insect. For a start, bees will not attack unless they feel threatened, which means that there’s no need to fear the gentle buzz around your flower bed. Additionally, you can choose plants that keep bees away. Bees tend to avoid red plants, so if you pick poppies, canna lilies and peonies, you’ll be bee-less. They are also not fond of trumpet flowers and highly scented flowers.
In short, it’s time to respect the bees for their part in supporting life throughout history. Whether it comes to wildflowers or wild animals, we all have bees to thank for our ecosystem. So, bee friendly in future.